Definition of possibility noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˌpɒsəˈbɪləti//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˌpɑːsəˈbɪləti//
    (pl. possibilities)
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  1. 1  [uncountable, countable] the fact that something might exist or happen, but is not certain to possibility (that…) There is now no possibility that she will make a full recovery. possibility (of something/of doing something) He refused to rule out the possibility of a tax increase. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we'll all meet again one day. Bankruptcy is a real possibility if sales don't improve. What had seemed impossible now seemed a distinct possibility. opposite impossibility
  2. 2  [countable, usually plural] one of the different things that you can do in a particular situation to explore/consider/investigate a wide range of possibilities to exhaust all the possibilities Selling the house is just one possibility that is open to us. The possibilities are endless. Synonymsoptionchoice alternative possibilityThese are all words for something that you choose to do in a particular situation.option something that you can choose to have or do; the freedom to choose what you do:As I see it, we have two options… Students have the option of studying abroad in their second year. Option is also the word used in computing for one of the choices you can make when using a computer program:Choose the ‘Cut’ option from the Edit menu.choice the freedom to choose what you do; something that you can choose to have or do:If I had the choice, I would stop working tomorrow. There is a wide range of choices open to you.alternative something that you can choose to have or do out of two or more possibilities:You can be paid in cash weekly or by cheque monthly: those are the two alternatives.option, choice or alternative?Choice is slightly less formal than option and alternative is slightly more formal. Choice is most often used for ‘the freedom to choose’, although you can sometimes also use option (but not usually alternative):If I had the choice/​option, I would… If I had the alternative, I would… parental choice in education parental option/​alternative in education. Things that you can choose are options, choices or alternatives. However, alternative is more frequently used to talk about choosing between two things rather than several.possibility one of the different things that you can do in a particular situation:We need to explore a wide range of possibilities. The possibilities are endless. Possibility can be used in a similar way to option, choice and alternative, but the emphasis here is less on the need to make a choice, and more on what is available.Patterns with/​without the option/​choice/​possibility of something a(n) good/​acceptable/​reasonable/​possible option/​choice/​alternative the only option/​choice/​alternative/​possibility open to somebody to have a/​an/​the option/​choice of doing something to have no option/​choice/​alternative but to do something a number/​range of options/​choices/​alternatives/​possibilities
  3. 3  [countable, usually plural] something that gives you a chance to achieve something synonym opportunity The course offers a range of exciting possibilities for developing your skills. Career possibilities for women are much greater than they were fifty years ago.
  4. 4possibilities [plural] if something has possibilities, it can be improved or made successful synonym potential The house is in a bad state of repair but it has possibilities. He was the first to see the possibilities of the plan.
  5. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French possibilite, from late Latin possibilitas, from possibilis ‘able to be done’, from posse ‘be able’.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: possibility